It seems I’ve been asleep at the fashion wheel and recently woke in the land of bras. Last year, all the buzz was about underwear and going commando.
Now it’s all about bras. They are a multi-billion dollar industry and many of our underwear drawers are stuffed with them. Dare I say cluttered?
The bra, whose origin traces back to corsets, has in 2016 emerged as the year’s foundation star—filling social media walls, appearing in countless ad campaigns, and headlining internet articles.
The undergarments I’m talking about aren’t the stuff of my mother and grandmother, women who preferred utilitarian brassieres (neither used the shortened nickname bra) in nude or white. They wore wide bands and pointy cups and when either woman hugged me to her bosom, I prayed I didn’t end up impaled or lose an eye.
Thankfully for today’s huggers and hugged, modern bras are rounder, padded, and offered in more varieties than flavors of Baskin-Robbins.
That’s a lot of choice for us gals.
And yet many of us have missed important facts. According to a number of expert interviews, we rarely know our size, a proper fit, how to store the bras we own, how often to wear them, how frequently to clean them, and in what way they should be washed.
All these articles proved one thing—I was a classic bra ignoramus. I wore my bras too often, didn’t wash them nearly enough (cue the chorus of ew!), stored them jumbled in a drawer, and when I did wash them, I did it all wrong. I owned several lingerie bags and used them religiously for machine washing my bras on delicate. More than a few experts recommended hand washing bras. Not for me. Never. Going. To. Happen.
Paying attention to this year’s other big buzzword—decluttering—I confronted my bra-itude and the stuffed drawer that I’d nicknamed the heap. At the time, I owned twenty-three bras. I wore a total of seven at least once a month. During any given week, I mainly rotated through four bras in either nude or black, all which were comfortable under tee shirts, sweaters, and dresses.
Many of my extras were the undergarment equivalents of moldy jars of food in the back of the fridge with a 2001 expiration date. They were spandex-and-wire space robbers that included an ancient strapless bra that wouldn’t hold up a fly let alone a boob, a front-close bra with broken hooks, and a maternity bra with a nursing flap despite all my kids being adults.
After I purged and reorganized, I wondered was I alone in my keep-beyond-repair bra-itude?
For answers, I turned to my girlfriends. I asked twelve gal-pals aged 25-65+, and with varied lifestyles, about their bra-itude.
Nine of the women I queried hung onto their old bras just as I did, which left only three friends who tossed their bras as soon as they were worn out.
Why did some toss them out while others (like me) didn’t?
The tossers voiced an all-around no-nonsense attitude toward bras and life. One girlfriend told me she didn’t hang on to anything once it had spoiled. “Not relationships, not men, and certainly not bras.” A chorus of “You go, girl!” sang through my thoughts.
The nine women who clung to old bras did so for many reasons, including the expense and the hassle of shopping for them. Bras are the black sheep of the wardrobe family, tied for the title with bathing suits. Several friends viewed their bras with a wishful “someday” attitude akin to how we view an old pair of jeans, or a favorite, no-longer-fitting dress.
One bra-keeper confessed to purging a big bunch of bras at the end of a romance. “I got rid of them that one time because the bras reminded me of the guy,” she said, but then added, “I don’t miss the guy, but I really miss those bras.”
Another pal told me she hung on to a bright-colored lacy number on the off chance that her sex life turned steamier than ever before.
Yes, research can be informative, fun, and eye opening.
Today, I own thirteen bras, and though I still wear only four frequently, I make a point to work the others in during the month. None are stretched out or broken. And they all fit my body and neatly inside my drawer.
My biggest revelation was that when it came to a woman’s bra-itude—the fit always mattered. But size did not.